Do all American ATMs charge an extra fee for cash withdrawals on a foreign card?

  • I've just gone to take some cash out of an ATM (Cash Machine) in Seattle. I visited about half a dozen in the end, and every single one wanted to charge me an extra fee (typically about $3) for the cash withdrawl on my (non-US) card. This was at bank ATMs in the centre of town, at their branches, rather than in a supermarket or somewhere.

    In the end I had to give up and let one of them charge me (I needed cash!), but it was both unexpected and rather annoying. Having gone to the trouble of getting a card that wasn't going to charge me lots to use it abroad, I'm instead hit with fees from the owner of the cash machine.

    Was I really unlucky to only find ATMs that wanted to charge me as a foreign user, or do all American ATMs do that? And if only some do, what banks should I be trying to find to avoid being hit with the fee?

    At JFK airport the cash machine didn't charge us...but everywhere else in NYC we were charged...!

    If you travel a bit, consider getting a basic account with one of the global banks, e.g. Citibank or HSBC. If you have one of their cards, you can generally withdraw cash fee-free (except maybe a conversion fee) at any of their ATMs worldwide.

    The trouble is that their conversion fees can be quite poor, while the card I want to use has no fees and no spread on it. Withdrawing a few hundred dollars, I'd be better off paying a few dollars in fees rather than use a Citibank card with a 3-4% spread!

    exactly as you say, when it says "no fee!" it's just an absurd trick, they simply charge a worse rate.

    Forgot to mention it in my bounty text: If someone knows a store that offers cashback via MasterCard/Visa that is also an option. All stores I know require your card to be on an US debit network. With foreign cards you always need to select "credit" in a store, even if it is a debit card.

    If it makes you feel better, you're not being discriminated because you're a foreign user. Most U.S. banks charge fees for users of *any* other bank to use their ATMs, whether that bank is foreign or domestic.

  • Mark Mayo

    Mark Mayo Correct answer

    9 years ago
    1. Try a credit union. Many of them boast surcharge-free ATMs. Lots of smaller banks don't collect surcharges either. Those that don't often will have a big sign saying so near the ATM. The Credit Union National Association, the Independent Community Bankers Association and The Co-Op Network all have ATM locators on their Web sites.

    2. Ask for cash-back when you use your ATM card at a grocery store. This service is free at many stores.

    3. Bankrate's 2010 Checking Study found that 99.1 percent of ATMs charged a fee to noncustomers, a few ticks above the 98.7 percent that charged a fee last year. Of course this means there are still SOME out there!

    4. (From same survey) the average fee is $2.33. So at the least, try and beat that target ;)

    I also suggest withdrawing as much money as you can at once (without withdrawing more than you'll need), so you are hit with fewer fees. This is advice I follow religiously, as I use a US bank account, and withdraw money at Mexican ATMs--and have not found any with no fees!

    +1 for the grocery store idea... but, when in america do as the americans do => use credit ;)

    In the case of Mexico I think there is a tax or some other kind of government fee on ATMs which cannot be avoided.

    The TechCU (Part of the Co-Op network) and located in San Francisco does charge $3 on foreign bank accounts. Just tested it :(

    @alengel - is it the ATM charging, or your foreign bank charging for an overseas transaction?

    The ATM charged me. I don't pay any fees with my UK credit card (I picked it for precisely that reason).

    I agree with the "getting cash back" at a grocery store. You have to make sure that your card is being processed as "debit", as choosing "credit" will not allow "cash back". The only fees in this case would be your own bank's fees for purchases (in this case, none)

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM